Airtel has launched Comedy FM, a dial-in radio service for its mobile customers. The service will offer jokes, fillers, standup comedy acts, excerpts from tv sitcoms including Comedy Circus, FIR, Office-Office, Lapataganj, Rangeela Raju and others. Airtel mobile users can dial the short IVR code 52747 to subscribe to the service to listen to clips from these shows. The service is available at a subscription rental of Rs 2 per day in addition to browsing charges of 2 paise per second.
– New monetization route? : We noticed that the featured comedy shows are from Sony and its sister channel SAB TV. In fact, Sony is also advertising the service on its online video portal – Video Chaska. It looks like, after Star Plus, other broadcasters have also started experimenting with voice clips on mobile IVR portals to monetize through an additional route. Partnering with an operator ensures that it pushes the service to its subscribers through SMS and voice calls, facilitating the promotion and discovery of the service, further. So even in a revenue sharing arrangement where the operator commands a larger share, the channel earns through volumes. Not to forget that it’s already making money through advertising and subscription revenues.
– Other similar Offerings : Last year, Star Plus had started a dedicated audio IVR portal, Star Plus on Mobile, offering audio summaries of its popular shows, in addition to related content such as audio blogs from protagonists, theme music and other related content. However, the IVR Portal were available on more than one operator. Prior to that, Star’s English entertainment channel Star World and Hungama had partnered to offer popular talk show Koffee With Karan.
– Will jokes sell? : While TV soaps and chat shows are still restricted to their dedicated audience, comedy clips with short gags does not require the listeners to be regular followers of the shows, and are usually not linked into different episodes. The question still remains- how many people will actually dial-in to listen to these jokes? Also, doesn’t this imply that operators are not too sure about fresh content that they’re going to tv broadcasters to repurpose content for mobile?